This year's conditions have seen the race live up to it's name as "the most brutal" with three previous winners, Tom Hollins, Eoin Keith, and Eugenie Roselló Sole, all forced to retire. Between Alston and Bellingham the lead changed several times as front runners fell to a mixture of technical failures, injury and exhaustion, but Paloncy pushed through to reach Byrness alone as the weather closed the race down overnight.
Pavel Paloncy heads into the night towards Kirk Yetholm, only stopping at the Auchop Hut for 4 minutes. Video:Montane Spine Race
With continuous snow and 45 mile an hour winds the organisers suspended the race with competitors held when arriving at a checkpoint. With improved conditions in the morning the race restarted at 6am, but not for the leader. Pavel picked up a 3 hour time penalty following a check of mandatory kit and chose to serve 2:45 at Byrness with 15 minutes to be added at the finish. Meanwhile with Tom Hollins retirement Switzerland's Simon Gfeller and British Spine regular John Knapp were released from Bellingham at 6am in joint second. Choosing to go straigh through Byrness they reduced Pavel's lead slowly despite the additional distance on the day but never got close to threatening the lead. As this goes out the pair are approaching Hut 2 and the descent to the finish line.
Competitors are still spread out over 90 miles of the Pennine Way
In the women's race last year's winner, Ireland's Carol Morgan is presntly almost 20 miles ahead of second place Sarah Kirsty Williams as she approaches Byrness in overall 7th place. The battle for third between Daphne Derouch and Ita Emanuela Marzotto is in the balance as they approach Greenhead.
In a way typical of the Spine family Spine Race record holder Eoin Keith, who had retired while in the lead, was on hand to present Pavel with his medal. The Spine competitors are renowned for their togetherness with competitors going to each others aid on several ocassions in the last 5 days as runners went down with hypothermia.
The moment Pavel Paloncý won the 2018 Montane Spine Race. Video:Montane Spine Race
You can follow the continuing saga of Britain's most brutal race here.